Hemorrhagic disease of deer found in Virginia

Published 2:22 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2019

RICHMOND —The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) has confirmed that a viral disease known as hemorrhagic disease (HD) has caused a number of deer mortalities across Virginia.

To date, the Department has received 87 reports from 38 counties involving 180 deer. The worst hit area is in and around Bedford and Franklin counties.

Hemorrhagic disease is a common infectious disease of white-tailed deer, and outbreaks occur annually in the Southeast. HD is common east of the Blue Ridge and is relatively uncommon west of the Blue Ridge. HD outbreaks are characterized by otherwise healthy looking deer being found dead or dying near or in the water during late summer and early fall. There is no vaccine or medication to combat this viral disease, and the best predictor of HD activity is drought.

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The disease poses no threat to humans or domestic pets such as dogs and cats. Hunters are not at risk from handling or eating venison from infected deer. Biting flies, commonly known as biting gnats, transmit this viral disease. HD outbreaks typically continue until the first frost kills the insects that carry the disease.

Deer that act or look obviously sick, either as a result of HD or another infectious disease, should not be consumed.

If you have observed sick or dead deer in your area and suspect HD may be the cause, do not attempt to contact, disturb, kill, or remove the animal. Report the approximate location of the animal to the Farmville DGIF office at (434) 392-9645.